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Rare Plant Species on Dobbins Mountain Raise More Red Flags for GDOT’s Proposed 411 Connector Route

Local Residents Call on GDOT to Complete Additional Plant Studies

The Coalition for the Right Road, an organization of Georgia citizens committed to making sure the U.S. 411 Connector is built less expensively, safer, and with minimal environmental impact, today announced the discovery of a large population of one of Georgia’s rarest plants — the Georgia Aster. Because the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) was not aware of these protected plant species on Dobbins Mountain, its prior environmental studies failed to account for rare plant habitat that could be negatively impacted by the proposed connector route, Route D-VE, which will cut through the mountain.

Throughout last year, botanist Jim Allison conducted field studies at Dobbins Mountain, including within the 107-acre Euharlee wildlife refuge. During an extensive plant survey last fall, Allison documented nearly 600 Georgia Aster flowering stems along the boundary of the refuge and very close to the proposed Route D-VE corridor. This newly-discovered Georgia Aster population is one of the largest in the state of Georgia. The Georgia Aster is a threatened, state-protected species, as well as a federal candidate species. Tom Patrick, botanist with the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), characterized the new discovery as significant.

Allison also documented at Dobbins Mountain a population of rare, native orchids (Pink Lady Slipper), a state-protected species, and Montane Longleaf Pines, which represent a “special concern” natural community for Bartow County. In addition to these rare, protected plants, Allison documented a diverse botanical community within the Euharlee wildlife refuge, consisting of at least 88 different native plant species.

When informed about the discovery of these rare plants, Pierre Howard, president of the Georgia Conservancy, stated, “The discovery of a large population of Georgia aster at Dobbins Mountain in Bartow County is of great botanical significance. Dobbins Mountain and its many natural treasures must be protected for future generations. It would be unthinkable to build a road through it when a better route is available.”

“The new plant discoveries are a meaningful development,” said Henry Parkman, attorney for Cartersville Ranch, LLC. “First, the rare plants identified at the Euharlee conservation easement provide additional evidence of the abundant, diverse wildlife that will be protected by the refuge.  Secondly, now that these protected plant species have been discovered, GDOT should conduct additional surveys to identify and study habitat for these and other protected plants that may be found within the corridor of proposed Route D-VE. The current re-evaluation of Route D-VE cannot be considered complete without GDOT doing such studies.”

The Coalition for the Right Road is not the only organization concerned about protecting the newly discovered rare plants. The Georgia Botanical Society, perhaps the most widely recognized and respected botanical organization in the state, has recently urged FHWA to consider an alternate route that would preserve the botanically sensitive areas of Dobbins Mountain.

About the Coalition for the Right Road

The Coalition for the Right Road (CORR) is an organization of Georgia citizens committed to making sure the U.S. 411 Connector is built with minimal environmental impact and at the lowest cost to taxpayers. CORR is opposed to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s current plans for the 411 Connector – Route D-VE – because of its exorbitant cost, inefficient interchange and environmental destruction. The coalition is committed to raising awareness of shorter, cheaper and less destructive routes, and is open to anyone who shares these concerns. For more information, visit www.coalitionfortherightroad.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Coalition for the Right Road meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 6 pm

Join us for a meeting on Tuesday, February 7 at 6 pm about the Georgia Department of Transportation’s proposed route, Route D-VE, for the U.S. 411 Connector. The meeting will be held at the Shoney’s on SR 20 in Cartersville – see enclosed handout. While there hasn’t been much reported on the connector in recent weeks, the Coalition has some updates about the road, pending environmental issues and more.

Keep in mind, the Coalition is an organization committed to ensuring the 411 Connector is built at the lowest cost to taxpayers with minimal impact to the local environment. Membership/attendance is open to anyone who shares these concerns.

If interested in attending, please RSVP to us411connector@gmail.com.

We hope to see you there.

2012: Working to Kill GDOT’s Route D-VE & to Save Taxpayers $100+ Million

The Coalition for the Right Road had an extremely successful 2011 and severely impacted/slowed GDOT’s plans for its wasteful, environmentally damaging U.S. 411 Connector route, Route D-VE.

This year it’s time to deliver the knockout punch to the route – which will cost taxpayers $112 million more than much shorter, smarter alternate routes. To date, GDOT has still failed to study geologic conditions at Dobbins Mountain and the potential for the acidic runoff in nearby creeks and streams. There are additional issues GDOT has failed to report or study and those announcements are forthcoming in the weeks ahead – so stay tuned.

The bottom line is; we’re not going anywhere. The coalition is committed to finding a practical route for the needed 411 Connector, but we remain dedicated to killing this absurd, costly route once and for all.

Make sure you check out our Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/411CORR) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/411CORR) pages for updates about Coalition meetings and announcements, upcoming trips to GDOT board meetings, news about the road and more. (If not a fan or follower of these pages, please do so.)

Thanks to all of those that have signed petitions (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/411corr/ – please sign if you have not already done so) to stop Route D-VE and that attended coalition-related events, meetings, etc. Your help and support is always appreciated!

Wishing you and yours a great 2012.

Coalition for the Right Road

CORR

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